Hands-on hires are valuable in a land where people like having private offices.
Hands-on is not the norm. Too many people seek management jobs as then they can sit at their desk and send people out as needed. I think we all know that managers that like to sit behind their desk are not as valuable as those who get out and find out what is happening directly.
General managers need to talk to actual customers and the people who turn the wrench. Nothing will substitute for a first hand understanding of what is going on.
This is especially true when you live an ocean away and need boots on the ground in China. Your managers need to be your eyes, ears and voice in real time that you cannot often be. You also may like Getting Good Chinese Managers.
Yes To Hands-On Hires and a Caution
Now, a few hands-on leaders disempower people working for them or fail to spend enough time thinking and planning. So, we do need to beware of that other ditch which we often see in China.
Consequently, what you need to find is people who get out from behind their desk and can also empower and uplift all along the chain of command. Sales managers of teams need to get out and meet customers, but in most cases, they also need to be good at training and developing junior sales people and even distributors.
Therefore, what we need is balance if the person is not just an individual contributor.
So, we need people who are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Just talk will not do it in almost all cases. Hands-on is needed. At the same time, get the people who will not make all the others feel worthless, but will empower and serve staff they hire. See also Do You Need Better Recruiting -8 Questions to Know.